The Volta a Portugal: the team, the teammates, and the goals
The calendar just turned to August a few days ago. But for the national cycling world (and beyond), that has only one meaning: Volta a Portugal. Although it’s the first time Whelan will race ‘A Grandíssima,’ he seems to have already learned the lesson well:
Now, I’m preparing for the Volta a Portugal. I’ve only seen video footage and what people say about it, and people say that it’s a special race. And I can understand, at least from the videos, what they’re talking about. Because I can see the emotion, I can see the crowds, I can see the infrastructure. It’s impressive
After a 2022 season where they dominated the national calendar in a prominent way, including winning the Volta a Portugal, Glassdrive/Q8/Anicolor enters this year as the favorite to repeat the victory in the race. They bolstered the team with Artem Nych and Whelan himself, who speaks highly of his teammates and embraces the favoritism bestowed upon them:
Glassdrive/Q8/Anicolor has a very strong team, for sure. For example, in a race like the Clasica de Ordizia, I’m convinced that we would have seven cyclists capable of being in the final split, something I’ve never felt in the teams I’ve been with before. Our standards within the team are high, and the quality of my teammates is excellent. When we come together for a race, it’s like we are one of the best Pro Tour teams in the world, especially in terms of climbers and endurance
Obviously, the team’s objective is to win the Volta. We have five, six guys who are all strong enough to do, whether that’s with me, whether that’s with Artem [Nych], whether that’s with Frederico [Figueiredo], Mauri [Maurício Moreira]. The team is well prepared, and we have several options to achieve the victory. It’s a long and challenging race, but I believe we can have a very strong performance and be in the mix for stage wins and the overall classification. I think the expectation is there and Rúben always wants to win and to have a bit more than just the win. I think with the way the team is riding, the way the staff is working and everything, with the equipment, with the food, with all the assistance on and off the bike, the riders have no excuse than to perform. We are ready to give our best.
On a personal level, Jimmy doesn’t hide the fact that he would like to win at least one stage in the most important event on the national calendar. It’s the first time he’ll have the opportunity to race a major stage race this season, so the ambition to showcase himself on Portuguese roads is at its peak. He doesn’t rule out the possibility of being the one from the team to contend for the overall victory, but he prefers to emphasize the collective effort:
The length of all the stages and the accumulation of the days, that suits me really well. It’ll be my first chance this season to race a big stage race, with more than five days. I’m looking forward to showing the fitness and the training that I’ve been doing. Now, I’ve got some racing in the legs too, the form is good and I’m ready to embrace this challenge. I have confidence that I can deliver a good performance, and I’m excited to see how things will unfold in the Volta a Portugal.
We will just have to see how the race evolves over the first few stages and once the guy has the jersey and he shows he’s in good form we will probably back that guy, that tends to be the way it works. But again, this race is long, a rider can have a bad day in between as well so we’ll see how it goes with the general classification. But I’d love to win a stage and I think I can do a good time trial in the final; I’ve been training on my time trial bike now, which I dind’t before the last race, so now I feel a lot better. But there are more stages, and the climb to Serra da Estrela suits me quite well, because it’s quite steep at the start and then it doesn’t get so steep. Maybe if I win that stage I get the Portuguese passport [laughs]. Even the stage to Senhora da Graça seems to be a beautiful and challenging finish. I’m training in Andorra at the moment, so my climbing form is really good. But every stage is an opportunity for me. The tactics can be interesting because I’m quite aero on the flat so I always try to take advantage of that. I’m excited for the opportunities that the Volta a Portugal presents, and I’m ready to give my best in any stage.
The most important thing is that I come into the race healthy and in a good fitness, and everything else will happen naturally. I don’t need to make it more complicated, but to win a stage would be really nice